Yesterday Jerry Seinfeld visited Reddit’s New York offices and “sat down for a lengthy “Ask Me Anything session. Seinfeld nerds logged on in droves to try to get their questions about the “excruciating minutiae” of their favorite show resolved. Seinfeld was, for the most part, compliant, giving redditors plenty of insight into everything from the secrets of the show’s success to the story behind Newman’s jambalaya dance in “The Soup Nazi.”
In addition to questions about Seinfeld, the stand-up titan addressed his hit web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, his relationship with Larry David, as well as his life as a stand-up comic. We combed through the thread and came up with our favorite 10 things we learned about all things Seinfeld.
We wrote this script for this thing that you will eventually see but I can’t reveal what it is at this time. All I can do is tell you is that it’s big, huge, gigantic. Even bigger than that Amazon package.
This was easily the biggest piece of news from an AMA that mostly featured Seinfeld fanboys asking specific questions about the show. It’s probably not a treatment for “Sack Lunch,” as one commenter suggested, but if it’s close to as big as the Amazon box Seinfeld is referring to, then we should probably be getting excited.
Season 3 of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee kicked off with a memorable nautical episode featuring Louis C.K. last week, and yesterday we learned when the idea for the web series initially struck Seinfeld.
One time, a friend of mine and I decided to drive a 1967 VW Bug from Albuquerque to the Hamptons. I bought the car on eBay for $5,000 and flew to Albuquerque and my friend flew from LA, and we decided to do that for something fun to do (this, by the way, is the actual original inspiration for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the year was 2000 and I did this with my friend Barry Marder, who you may know as the author of “Letters From a Nut” by Ted L. Nancy).
“Charlie Chaplin in a Duesenberg.”
“The Marble Rye” and “The Pothole.” We’re not sure how “The Marble Rye” didn’t make it on our list of Seinfeld’s 25 best episodes.
One was the The Rye, because we got to shoot that at Paramount Studios in LA which was the first time that we thought “wow this is almost like a real TV show.” We hadn’t felt like a real TV show, the early years of the TV show were not successful. We had this idea of a Marble Rye and we had to shoot it in an outdoor set, and this was a very expensive thing to do, it’s like a movie place there at Paramount in LA. Their standing set for New York looks exactly like it, and we thought “this is where the ADULT shows are, the REAL shows like Murphy Brown.” We felt like we were a weird little orphan show. So that was a big deal for us.
And that was very exciting, we were up all night shooting it on the set of paramount and it was very exciting.
The other one that was really fun was in the episode The Pothole, Newman drives his mailtruck over a sewing machine and his mail truck burst into flames. It was really fun to shoot, and it was fun to set Newman on fire. And he screamed “oh the humanity” like from the Hindenberg disaster. It’s one of my favorites.
Speaking of Newman, Seinfeld professed his love for Wayne Knight’s character several times through the AMA. He even mentioned that his “Oh, the humanity!” line when his truck of fish goes up in flames is one of the only one-liners from the series that Seinfeld finds himself using in real life. The other one is a little more obscure:
The only line I quote from the show (and I’ll be very impressed if anybody out tehre remembers this line) is “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”
I find myself saying that to my kids a lot. It’s a very obscure line, but George was working at some company where they all had lunch together, and he wasn’t trying the apple pie, and the boss finally says “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” A lot of times kids won’t want to try certain foods, and so I’ll use that line.
Seinfeld dispelled a few common perceptions about Seinfeld, including the “show about nothing” concept. The show was originally pitched to NBC in 1988 as “a show about how a comedian gets his material.” He says that he and Larry David were surprised about how a “show about nothing” caught on as a way to describe the series.
He also divulged what he felt was the “key to the entire show”:
Seinfeld has been doing stand-up comedy for longer than, well, pretty much anyone not named Cosby. Over the course of almost 40 years, he’s undoubtedly run into his fair share of hecklers, and the method he developed for dealing with them is genius.
Very early on in my career, I hit upon this idea of being the Heckle Therapist. So that when people would say something nasty, I would immediately become very sympathetic to them and try to help them with their problem and try to work out what was upsetting them, and try to be very understanding with their anger. It opened up this whole fun avenue for me as a comedian, and no one had ever seen that before. Some of my comedian friends used to call me – what did they say? – that I would counsel the heckler instead of fighting them. Instead of fighting them, I would say “You seem so upset, and I know that’s not what you wanted to have happen tonight. Let’s talk about your problem” and the audience would find it funny and it would really discombobulate the heckler too, because I wouldn’t go against them, I would take their side.
Seinfeld has always been known to rock classic white sneakers (call him the Steve Jobs of comedy). Yesterday we learned that his inspiration was Broadway Joe.
It started with wanting to be Joe Namath of the 1969 New York jets, who at that time was one of the only football players to wear white shoes. And I wanted to be like him, so I always wore white sneakers. Also, Bill Cosby on I SPY always wore white sneakers. And they were my fashion icons.
He called Jason Alexander’s shrug during the second message “the quintessence of the George character.”